Hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Agricultural Library (NAL), the Life Cycle Assessment Commons (LCA Commons) is a collaboration among federal agencies, private industry, and academic researchers. The intention of LCA Commons is to support LCA researchers by collecting and archiving life cycle inventory data, making it freely available for re-use. The LCA Commons is currently a collection of unit processes and product systems developed through individual research projects as opposed to a set of linked processes representing complete supply chains.
The USDA LCA Commons is a repository for data, tools, and resources that support life cycle assessment for U.S. agricultural production and agriculturally derived products. LCA Commons serves a critical purpose because life cycle inventory data are "siloed" across various government, industry, and academic organizations. They are developed and stored independently, in different formats, and without consistent modeling and documentation standards. Consequently, data sets do not contribute to a greater understanding of complete supply chains. The LCA Commons provides a platform for groups already working in LCA to coordinate modeling and documentation conventions to produce re-usable datasets. Collecting datasets in a stable repository, and formatting them in a re-usable way reduces costs incurred by duplication of effort and inconsistent data practices. Complete and consistent metadata descriptions also minimize the misuse or misinterpretation of LCA data.
The lcacommons.gov database application is based on the openLCA framework for life cycle modeling and visualization. openLCA provides a database platform, metadata schema, and format converters to enable the interoperability of data developed in different formats.
The LCA Commons also includes an LCA collection in NAL’s Ag Data Commons. That collection is a catalog and archive of data and tools related to agricultural LCA, but not currently organized or formatted for use in LCA software.